Keys to 2019: Buxton’s Emergence
Image courtesy of Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY SportsByron Buxton didn’t finish last season in Minnesota. The organization decided not to make him a September call-up. In doing so, the club picked up an extra year of service time as Buxton now won’t be eligible for free agency until 2023.
There were high hopes for Buxton entering the 2018 campaign. He ended 2017 on an upswing as he hit .300/.347/.546 with 23 extra-base hits in the second half. However, the 2018 campaign quickly turned into a nightmare for Buxton. He only managed to play 28 games at the big-league level while hitting .156/.183/.200 with four extra-base hits. He struggled through injuries and spent time trying to find his swing in the minor leagues.
Some players take time to develop. In recent memory, Aaron Hicks was a player that took some time to figure it out at baseball’s highest level. Since leaving the Twins three years ago, he has been the tenth most valuable outfielder in the American League. Another former Twin, Joe Nathan, didn’t see his career take off until being traded to Minnesota and becoming the team’s closer at age 29.
Baseball is a funny game. Sometimes it pays to be patient, especially with a player like Buxton who seems to have endless potential.
Buxton is the one player on the Twins roster who can impact the game in every way. He’s shown the ability to be the best defensive player in the league. He can drive teams crazy on the bases with his ability to turn a single into a double or move from first to third on a slow roller to the outfield.
The Twins don’t need Buxton to hit. 350 and crack 40 home runs. His defense and running ability make him valuable without even considering his hit and power tools. A healthy Buxton could result in more of what Twins fans saw in the second half of 2017. Buxton showed his ability to hit for average and to post some strong power numbers.
Minnesota’s next window of opportunity is right now, and Buxton’s emergence is key to the club moving forward. Miguel Sano is an important piece as well, but Buxton can impact every facet of the game. If Minnesota sits atop the AL Central at season’s end, Buxton was likely part of the team’s success.
Baseball’s former top prospect is only 25-years old so there is no reason to give up on him now. Buckle-up Twins fans because Buxton could be just one key component to the team’s success next season. He is a threat to break out at any moment.
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